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N7.2bn Fraud Allegation: Court Awaits Fresh Instructions Over Kalu’s Trial

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– EFCC Presents More Witnesses Against Ex-Jigawa Gov, Lamido

Justice Mohammed Idris sitting in Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday, January 23 said that the court would await further directives to proceed with the trial of a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, facing charges of N7.2 billion fraud.

Kalu, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress was alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.

It will be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Kalu alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, and a company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., for the alleged offences.

The EFCC preferred 34 charges, bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against the accused on October 31, 2016.

The charges were, however, amended and increased to 39 counts.

Kalu and the others had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.

 Recalled that Justice Idris, who has been sitting as a trial judge in the criminal charge against Kalu, has been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

Justice Idris had, however, been conducting the trial in the case, following a fiat, authorising him to continue with the trial.

Kalu was absent from trial at the last adjourned date on November 12, 2018 after being absent on a previous adjourned date of November 5, 2018.

Although the defence counsel had informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany, the court had revoked his bail and ordered that he must submit himself and relevant travelling documents to the EFCC at the point of his entry into the country, failing, which he would be arrested.

The court had then adjourned the case till January 23, for the continuation of 

On Wednesday, the Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), appearing for the prosecution, informed the court that in spite of its order, the accused had refused to submit himself or his travelling documents to the EFCC.

According to Jacobs, the court should order defence to call its witnesses, failing which the court is allowed by the provisions of the law, to close their case.

Responding, Counsel to the accused, Mr. Awa Kalu (SAN), expressed his displeasure with the submissions of the prosecution, noting that such arguments as canvassed by Jacobs should be put in an affidavit for the defence to reply.

The court, however, in its reaction, informed parties that although the case had been adjourned for the continuation of the trial, the fiat issued by the presiding judge of the appellate court expired at the end of November 2018.

He said that on January 10, he had received fresh fiat in respect of some other matters before him, adding that the case in point was not mentioned.

Idris said that for this reason, he had strong doubt if he should continue with proceedings, adding that it was important he acted with abundant caution.

Meanwhile, the EFCC, on January 23, 2019 presented four more witnesses in the ongoing trial of former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, his two sons, Aminu and Mustapha, Aminu Wada Abubakar, Bamaina Holdings Ltd and Speeds International Ltd before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The matter had been adjourned from November 23, 2018 following the failure of the fourth prosecution witness, Harry Charles, a Relationship Manager with Diamond Bank Plc, to produce original documents which were to be tendered in evidence, as opposed to the Certified True Copies which were presented before the court.

At the resumed proceedings today, Charles presented the original Diamond Bank Account Opening Packages and Statement of Accounts from July 2007 to December 2013 for Interior Woodwork Limited before the court.

According to him, “The Statement of Accounts was generated automatically from a series of customer transaction entries”.

The documents were tendered by the prosecution and admitted by the Court in evidence as Exhibits M1 and M2, respectively.

Also tendered in evidence through Charles, were a Diamond Bank Account Opening Package for Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company, Statements of Accounts from July 2007 to December 2013 and a Certificate of Identification which were tendered and admitted in evidence as Exhibits O series, P1 and P2 respectively.

The fifth Prosecution Witness, PW5, Aminat Abubakar Temitope, a Relationship Officer with Sterling Bank who presented, in response to a subpoena summoning her, the Subpoena, as well as, Mandate Cards, Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, documents, Memorandum of Association and Certificate of Incorporation which formed the Account Opening Package for a Sterling Bank Account opened in the name of Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company.

The documents were tendered and admitted in evidence as Exhibits Q, S series respectively.

The witness also presented Sterling Bank Statements of Accounts for Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company, and a Certificate of Identification, which were tendered and admitted in evidence as Exhibits S1 and S2, respectively.

Shittu Ishaq Mansur, a Branch and Relationships Manager with Unity Bank, testified as the sixth prosecution witness, PW6.

The PW6 presented to the Court the subpoena summoning him, Account Opening Documents of Bamaina Holding Company, Statements of Accounts and a Certificate of Identification, which were tendered and admitted in evidence as Exhibits T, U series, V1 and V2, respectively.

The witness further presented to the court an Account Opening Package for Speeds International Limited containing a letter from the company for activation of the account, the data page of the first defendant’s (Lamido) international passport, Corporate Affairs Commission Registration Documents, Extract of Extraordinary Meeting held in 2006 of Speeds International Limited, Letters of consent by the first defendant (Lamido) and the Statements of Accounts of Speeds International Limited.

Prior to the examination of the witnesses, counsel to the defendants, Kanu Agabi, SAN, moved for the substitution of sureties for the second, third, fourth and eighth defendants. There was no objection by the prosecution.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to February 25 and 26, 2019 for continuation of trial.

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